AFRICOM General Establishes Legacy as 1st Chief of Staff

STUTTGART, Germany - Major General Michael Snodgrass, AFRICOM chief of staff, his wife Dr. Bobbie Snodgrass, and his staff gather during a farewell potluck September 29, 2010. He will become the assistant deputy under secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Stuart Java) U.S. AFRICOM Photo STUTTGART, Germany - Major General Michael Snodgrass, AFRICOM chief of staff, his wife Dr. Bobbie Snodgrass, and his staff gather during a farewell potluck September 29, 2010. He will become the assistant deputy under secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Stuart Java)
STUTTGART, Germany - Senior Master Sergeant Ruel Rafi, U.S. Africa Command first sergeant, presents a farewell gift to Major General Michael Snodgrass, AFRICOM chief of staff, during an Air Force all-hands call October 6, 2010 at the Kelley Theatre. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) U.S. AFRICOM Photo STUTTGART, Germany - Senior Master Sergeant Ruel Rafi, U.S. Africa Command first sergeant, presents a farewell gift to Major General Michael Snodgrass, AFRICOM chief of staff, during an Air Force all-hands call October 6, 2010 at the Kelley Theatre. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
U.S. Africa Command staff gathered to honor their first chief of staff during an award ceremony and farewell potluck September 27, 2010. Major General Michael Snodgrass has spent the past three years responsible for AFRICOM staff - taking care of people, coordinating staff programs and assisting leadership in strategic thinking. "It is hands-down the toughest job in the command because you have to have a hand on the pulse of everything going on," said General William "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, who presided over the ceremony. Ward presented Snodgrass with the Defense Superior Service Medal for his leadership, guidance and vision that enabled successful establishment and early successes of the command. "If you were to pick out one person, that includes Kip Ward, that has caused this command to be at a place where it is today as far as how we've had to deal with resources, people, the physical plant, but also our programs - how we do business, it's been the chief of staff," said Ward. He emphasized that the bottom line at U.S. Africa Command is working to make your teammates better, and Major General Snodgrass embodies that. "He causes each of us to be better by what he does." Snodgrass has left a strong legacy not only in the command but also in the Stuttgart military community through his support to Department of Defense dependent schools and multiple volunteer organizations. Education Initiative He started the U.S. Africa Command Improvement Performance Program to recognize Stuttgart area middle school students each quarter for their hard work and dedication. "He put programs in place that caused [school children] to want to achieve because they knew that someone cared about them," Ward said. Snodgrass has presented more than 1,000 AFRICOM Chief of Staff Most Improved Awards to students who improved at least one letter grade in any given subject or improved their overall grade point average. "We have seen the focus on education in those middle school grades really increase," Snodgrass said. The chief of staff wasn't alone in supporting school programs and the community; his wife, Dr. Bobbie Snodgrass, was also presented the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal during the ceremony for her commitment to U.S. Africa Command, their families and the community. General Snodgrass credited and thanked his wife for supporting him and the community throughout his career and most recently during the process of standing up U.S. Africa Command. Starting from Scratch Although setting up a new command has had its challenges, Snodgrass said the command's progress has been rewarding. "Three years ago as we stood up the command and we were so encumbered with all those activities surrounding standup, I could not have imagined that we would be as fundamentally engaged across the continent in so many different areas and that we would have the reach that we have with our African partners," the chief of staff said. "We are doing so much more than I could have possibly imagined - and in such a very short time. And it isn't just folks at this headquarters, it's also our components. And their standup is a year behind ours. And taken in that light, it's even more amazing. The level of activity that we're able to produce that is, in the vast majority of examples, adding tremendous value to our capabilities of our African partners." The chief of staff is most proud of his part in helping to position people for success and giving them an environment that enables open discussions. "Leadership is responsible for providing an environment that allows people to succeed to the best of their talents," he said. "I'm very happy with my role in doing that. It's been a lot of fun." During his 32 years of active military service, Snodgrass spent most of his time in the Air Force working with the lethal application of airpower. Trying to help African militaries to be defenders of their populations and protectors of their people is quite different, but very rewarding, he said. "With the kind of latitude General Ward gave us to build the command, this was the most satisfying job that I've ever had as a general officer - without a doubt." Snodgrass said the command staff has done a good job of balancing a large mission with few resources. He believes the key to success is to work with passion and commitment to continue helping the people of Africa. Leaving a Mark of Success "Be passionate about whatever you do," Snodgrass advised. "Take your duties as seriously as you can with a little bit of humor, but to care about the outcome. If you truly care about what you do, your jobs will be rewarding because you'll be successful." Snodgrass gave credit for his achievements at U.S. Africa Command to the staff and General Ward. "I just wanted to thank all the folks I've served with here in this command for their unlimited dedication and hard work in helping to make all of us successful. I owe these folks a great deal," he said. General Snodgrass will become the assistant deputy under secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, in Washington, D.C. And, although it is difficult for the Snodgrass' to say goodbye, after serving three consecutive tours overseas, they are looking forward to being closer to home and to their family. "We will always consider [Germany] to be another home," said Snodgrass. Snodgrass leaves behind a handprint that will stay with the command forever, Ward said. "The fact that he has been so instrumental in causing us to be who we are is something that I am forever indebted to.

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